Are you searching for a web hosting provider? Is this your first time? If you are researching for your first web host then you probably have a lot of questions. You have likely also noticed that there is a wealth of information and options out there which can make finding the right one for you a daunting proposition. How do you know what advice to take and what to pass up? How do you know what services you really need and which ones you don’t?
Here are ten things you can take a look at when researching your first web host.
Connection- How does the host connect to the internet? What type of connection speed do they have? This will play an important role in the type of service that you receive from them so it is important to find this out. In addition to the connection, you will also want to look into the security measures that the host takes so that you know your site and your personal information is secure.
Reliability– Does this company have a good, proven track record of reliability? What is their average downtime each month? Is this downtime going to affect your needs? Take some time to look into their background and history of reliability. Also take time to see what others are saying about them. Check to see if they offer any sort of guarantees on uptime and reliability. If they do, check to see what they say they will do if they don’t meet their uptime guarantees. Will you be getting a partial refund?
Commitment- Does the host you are considering require a commitment from you? Are you obligated to remain with the host for a certain period of time or can you leave and cancel your contract if you are not satisfied with the service? Do they offer some type of trial period or discounted trial period? If you sign up with a good price, are you guaranteed that price for the length of your contract? When researching your first web host, it is always a good idea to do some looking into the commitment involved – on your part and on the part of the host. In general, there is so much competition nowadays that contracts for regular web hosting is mostly a thing of the past when it comes to basic shared hosting (which is what you will often use for your first website, at least to start with). You may find that there are still contracts from some companies in the case of dedicated or managed hosting.
Price – This is an important factor for many people but keep in mind that cheapest is not always the best. At the same time, the most expensive is not always the best. While there are many cost-effective web hosting options out there, you still want to make sure you are getting one in your price range that also meets your other needs and specifications. Don’t just look at the price alone. Compare price in conjunction with services. Don’t skimp on a few dollars a month for a much better service. Sometimes there is a LOT more than a few dollars worth of value in the difference between these hosts.
Domain – Do you already own your own domain or will you need to purchase your own domain? Some hosts offer a deal where you can get a cheaper price on your domain (or get it free) when you get hosting service as well. Some do not offer this and you are required to have your own domain if you want one. Your domain will be how customers find you and recognize you so it is important that you choose one that works for you.
Customer service/ Technical Support– What kind of customer service options do they have? Do they have a toll free access number? You will want to look for customer service that is knowledgeable and available 24/7 (especially if your web hosting company is in a different timezone or country). Do they offer technical support for using their services? This is sometimes different that just customer service. Do they have a line or an email you can contact if you need technical help with setting up your website and using their services? Do they have a forum which their customers contribute to? These can all be very important points, especially if you are new.
Bandwidth– How much bandwidth are you allowed? What happens if you go over your monthly bandwidth? Are you able to add more bandwidth later if it turns out you need it? Are there penalties involved with increasing your bandwidth? These are important this to find out, especially if you are a growing business with the potential to get very large. You definitely don’t want a potential customer arriving at your site one day to find a blank ‘this user has exceeded their bandwidth’ error page on display. Instead you want a proactive company that will send you an email about it rather than just taking down your site.
Email addresses– How many email addresses do you get? How many do you need? Do you have the option to purchase more if needed? A few email addresses may be fine for the average person but if you are running a business, you might need many. Look into what email features the host offers if this is important to you. Also check your email storage features and other options such as mail forwarding, auto responders, web-mail accessibility etc.
Other Extras – What other extras come with the hosting plan you are considering? Do you get auto responders? Do you get extra email addresses? Do they have auto-install shopping cart software which they offer? What types of extras come with your plan? How much space are you allowed for your site? Are these services important to you and your needs? Look into the types of packages the web host offers and what extras come with your services.
User reviews– A good idea is also to look for user reviews on the particular web host provider that you are considering. What do other people have to say about this host? Do other users have good reviews? Do they recommend this host?
These ten steps should help you when it comes to researching your web host. Remember that you don’t have to choose the first web host you see or even the first one that you try.